Cover up tattoos are a good way to improve upon or completely omit a tattoo that the wearer regrets. Because tattoo removal can be very costly and painful, and may not even remove the tattoo itself, or leave ugly scars, getting a cover up is a better option to choose. Tattoos that are very faded and old or extremely light, are the easiest for tattoo artists to work with. Smaller tattoos are also ideal for a cover up. Large, dark tattoos are difficult to work with, but often are not impossible. These require the consultation of a very experienced tattoo artist who have done cover ups in the past. White ink or removal creams may help to lighten the old tattoo in preparation for a cover up design.
A case that is common for someone to want to cover up their old tattoo is when they got that tattoo at a very young age, often as a teenager. It may have no real personal meaning to them as an adult and be more of an eye sore than "cool" looking. Perhaps at that age they didn't make wise choices and had someone who was inexperienced, or a scratcher, to permanently mark them with an ugly and embarrasing tattoo. Another common reason why someone would get a cover up is if the tattoo reminds them of an old relationship. A portrait or name of an ex lover or ex spouse may be a very painful visible reminder of their loss. It's also embarrasing to have a portrait or name of someone that people will recognize as an ex. A wearer may have had a belief system in the past that they do not agree with or now hate. There are stories of people who were racist in the past, and have very racist themed, tattoos on them that they now regret and are embarrassed to have. These are just a few examples of why someone may cover up a regretful tattoo.
Here's a classic example of someone getting a tribal design that is too small for their back, and without much thought put into it. The cover up is much better placed and beautiful!
An example of an ex lover's name being covered up. "100% Tony" got turned into some flowers.
Funny example of an ex girlfriend's portrait being turned into something more macabre.
Another example of an ugly tattoo turned into something amazing!
This is not a cover up, but this man is a former white supremacist who was embarrassed by his old tattoos and wanted to become a new man. He underwent many sessions of painful laser removal to get rid of his regretful tattoos.